It’s safe to say, Chase McLaughlin’s final preseason outing with the Cleveland Browns could have gone better.
McLaughlin is currently the only kicker on the Browns roster after incumbent starter Cody Parkey went on injured reserve and was later waived by the team. However, McLaughlin hardly inspired confidence, doinking a 56-yard kick off the uprights and shanking a PAT badly.
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski acknowledged the 56-yard kick before half was tough but he wanted to see how McLaughlin responded to the challenge.
“I think it’s a pretty cut and dry — it’s a make or miss league,” Stefanski told reporters after the game. “That’s not easy. It’s a challenging kick and we wanted to give him a swing at it.”
The Browns will have options this week as other teams around the league trim their rosters to 53 players. At least a few veteran kickers are likely to hit the waiver wire, which could allow the Browns to pounce on an option they like better than McLaughlin.
“All these guys are working very hard. He’s competing for a spot,” Stefanski said. “I know he had that miss but he has done a nice job in camp and we value the practice reps, joint practice reps, the game reps — it’s all of it.”
McLaughlin was 2-for-2 previously on his field goal attempts this preseason.
Browns Have Been Vague About Kicker Plans
Stefanski’s sentiment about his team’s kicking situation is really nothing new, with Browns special teams coordinator Mike Priefer issuing a similar statement.
“Honestly, Cody did a really nice job for us last year. He came back eight pounds heavier. He came back stronger. He was going to be better on kickoffs,” Priefer said on Thursday. “Chase was really giving him a run for his money. I like Chase. I am confident in Chase. I do not make those final decisions, but this is a big week for him.”
McLaughlin was originally signed this offseason to provide competition for Parkey. with He originally inked a deal with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois in 2019. McLaughlin has also had stints with the Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Chargers, San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts. McLaughlin has made 78.6 percent of his field goal attempts (22 of 28) and 96.9 percent of his extra points (31 of 32) in the NFL.
Parkey was good, but not great last season after beating out former fifth-round pick Austin Seibert. Parkey hit on 19 of 22 field goal attempts and was 43 of 47 on extra points.
KhaDarel Hodge Registers Another Touchdown Catch
Another Browns player on the bubble as cut day approaches is KhaDarel Hodge, who is trying to carve out a spot in a packed Browns wide receiver room. Hodge registered a touchdown reception in Sunday’s game against the Falcons, snagging a nicely placed ball from Baker Mayfield in the first quarter.
“He just makes things happen,” Mayfield said of Hodge. “He’s not a very big guy, but he’s very physical. I’m happy we have him on our team.”
Hodge has played in 25 games with the Browns, notching 15 catches for 256 yards over that span. Hodge also plays a role on special teams, playing 82 snaps last season.
We’ll see if Hodge has done enough to stick around later this week. Teams have to make the decision on their 53-man roster by 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.